We have been diligently visiting the sites of Rhode Island since the girls were babies. But occasionally, we have had to choose to wait a few years to visit certain sites because the girls were not old enough to enjoy them. We finally were able to visit two of those places this week.
Nathanael Greene Homestead
My husband grew up in Coventry, Rhode Island, which just happened to be home to Revolutionary War general Nathanael Greene. I first became interested in Nathanael Greene in 2005 when I read David McCullough's 1776. General Greene is one of the major figures discussed in that book. My husband and I started dating the following year. I'm fairly certain that I identified the Nathanael Greene Homestead as a place I'd like to visit on my first trip to Rhode Island with him in December 2006. A mere fourteen years later, we finally toured the homestead.
The house, called Spell Hall, is a quintessential colonial house. The rural land it sits on is now picturesque, though our tour guide said at the time the view of the house was the family foundry that he ran. While Nathanael Greene may not have enjoyed the views from his windows, we certainly did. We also appreciated the cool breeze blowing through and cooling the house. Our tour guide explained that the house was well-designed to allow air to circulate. There is both a large center hall and small hallway connecting the rooms that allow air to move. In the winter the smaller hallways can be closed off to allow the fireplaces to more easily heat the room.
I particularly enjoyed the period furniture placed in house. There were several beautiful desks, of which I took note. We also learned a great deal about foot warmers and bed warmers, which are very important for a cold Rhode Island winter. My Hamilton-loving children were more interested in the room that once hosted George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette. Here are some pictures from our trip.
I have wanted to go to The Breakers for even longer than the Nathanael Greene Homestead. I enjoyed watching A&E's America's Castles in the 1990s, which featured this Newport, Rhode Island, "summer cottage" belonging to Cornelius and Alice Vanderbilt. I was thrilled when I realized all of our children were old enough to enjoy this beautiful home.
The Newport Mansion Preservation Society provides audio tours of all their mansions which can be downloaded to an iPhone, Kindle or other tablet. We collected our devices and managed to provide each member of our family with an audio tour and headphones. This turned out to be for the best because we did move at different speeds. Our youngest Anne was diligent about covering everything on the audio tour, but she needed to move a fairly quick pace. Our oldest Meg wanted to listen to each "extra" included in the audio tour. Clare, who loves fabrics and decor from historical periods, listened to just the main audio tour, but needed time to just "oooh" and "aaaah" over the various rooms.
For most everyone in the family, the library was a favorite room. We could all picture ourselves sitting in this room and reading for hours. Clare said it would the perfect place to read Harry Potter.